How Cells Choose to Create Energy

To supply their energy needs, cells typically choose between utilizing glucose in the cytoplasm (aerobic glycolysis and lactic acid fermentation) or “burning” pyruvate in the mitochondria (mitochondrial carbohydrate oxidation). Although this is arguably the most fundamental metabolic decision that cells make, before 2012 it was not clear how cells import pyruvate into mitochondria to fuel ATP production. Continue reading → How Cells Choose to Create Energy

Sensing and Regulating Cellular Energy Production

Cells must decide when to expand mitochondrial capacity to accommodate increased energy demands. Rutter, Winge, and colleagues have shown that the ancient mitochondrial fatty acid synthesis system has a profound and unexpected regulatory role in driving mitochondrial biogenesis. Continue reading → Sensing and Regulating Cellular Energy Production

Research Statement

The Rutter laboratory is interested in discovering new ways to understand metabolism and how it integrates with cell behavior. We are currently exploring two central areas.

First, as much of metabolic control is enacted at the level of mitochondria—in ways that are mostly not understood—we initiated a project to functionally annotate the eukaryotic mitochondrial proteome. To date, this effort has elucidated the genetic basis of two human diseases and several fundamental mitochondrial functions.

Second, we are leveraging this knowledge to explore the connection between metabolism and cellular behaviors. Specifically, we want to determine how alterations in distinct metabolic pathways can impact cell fate decisions both in discrete stem cell niches as well as in human diseases such as cancer and heart failure. To facilitate this undertaking we are developing several experimental and computational platforms for the identification and characterization of novel features of metabolism.